A Farewell to Comic-FonA column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Dylan Garsee
To someone such as myself born in the swamplands of southeast Texas, the towering mountains of west Texas are especially awe inspiring and almost surreal. I was almost happy to absorb their majesty filtered through a car window at such a high speed; to simply stand in their presence seems like it would be overwhelming, like that one time I met Michael Clarke Duncan when I was twelve. There's something in taking a road trip that really can't be described with words. Driving over every winding road with the world expanding ad infinitum with Paul Simon's Graceland blasting out the stereo, the wind throwing the stale air conditioning out the window and replacing it with sun kissed oxygen is something to be experienced.
This was hour three.
Fast forward 15 hours to the Arizona desert. The moon missed the memo to show up this night, and the state government would rather spend tax dollars on racism than street lights. All of the music on my iPhone has been played several times over except for the Swans album The Seer, which is the kind of drone excess that perfectly scores driving through a light deprived state in a sleep deprived state. Even the unfiltered stars that shone above me played second fiddle to the relief I felt from peeing on the unfiltered desert sand. Hell became this trip, and we were still a state away.
All this for Comic Con.
I went last year, and even though I vowed never to step foot in the overcrowded hell scape that is San Diego Comic-Con, I was somehow possessed to attend this year. The lines, the scale, the amount of people dressed up as Dr. Who (I'm sorry, THE DOCTOR) was just too overwhelming for me last year and with the added stress of driving instead of flying and spending all of my money on said driving just tainted the whole experience. It's like associating your old favorite song with an ex: You may still try to like the song, it's just you hate the person, therefore you hate the song.
So on this, August 7th, 2013, I hereby proclaim that I will never go to Comic-Con again (unless I become super famous, which, lets face it, isn't happening anytime soon).
Let me clear two things up right off the bat: I know this sounds like "my wallet can't hold all of my $100 bills". Yes, I went to Comic-Con for free, and if I never started writing for the site, my life would be drastically different, and I am eternally grateful. Also, I had fun. 49% of my time in San Diego, I loved. It just happened to be 100% of the time I wasn't at the Con.
Now back to your regularly scheduled rant.
In the age of the reddit and The Big Bang Theory, everyone is a nerd at some level. The last panel of Comic-Con I attended was on bullying, and one of the panelist said the most honest thing I heard the whole time. She basically said that you can't assume everyone that likes Star Wars is a benevolent, angelic nerd that exists in the world only to love. Star Wars isn't this unknown entity that only the cultural elite are familiar with. Everyone has seen Star Wars. "Nerds" need to get off their high horse and realize that people aren't defined by what they consume culturally.
With some of the panels that I attended this year, along with conversations I overheard while waiting in line for various panels, it's easy to say that the dewy-eyed "I'm a special snowflake because I like Doctor Who" mentality is in full effect, and isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
What makes Comic-Con and hardcore fandom in general inherently evil is its invisible hand that pits fans against fans in a sort of vying for the love of what they love. People shouldn't have to wait in line for a panel on Doctor Who for nearly 20 hours, like the thousands of people who were at the panel had to do. That sort of extreme devotion not only forbids others who may be interested in discovering something new, but also inhibits you, the person waiting in line, from seeing anything else. That's such a sad existence, to me at least, for your entire memory of Comic-Con to be "oh yeah, I waited in line to see an hour of Doctor Who. And if that's all you wanted to see in general, then I feel especially sorry for you, because there's a whole universe of things to be loved in the world, more tv shows and movies and books and songs to be loved, yet you devote all of your energy to one. All of your love to one tv show.
And if you're a big enough fan of something that you dress up as something from that something, then that's an even thinner line to walk on. Cosplaying is about the attention and the fantasy fulfillment. However, if you're cosplaying as Finn from Adventure Time, you better be either that super muscly guy
or something as creative, or you'll get lost in the sea of a thousand other Finn's (which I saw plenty of). Do I have any memory of their costumes besides that I saw a trillion other of the exact same? No. But I did, however remember he husband and wife that cosplayed as the old guy and the bird Kevin from Up. It was creative and done so well that I couldn't help but smile every time I thought of it. Unlike every time I saw a Harley Quinn, which was every ten seconds.
What I'm trying to say is "Comic-Con attendees: be more creative." It's okay to love something hyper popular. Hell, I love Taylor Swift. But just realize that so does everyone else. You are not a special snowflake because you love Star Trek. So until the geek community realizes that they are much larger than they'd like to believe, I'll just hang out at SXSW.